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September 19, 2018

Video: Meet the World's First Domesticated, Semi-Doglike Foxes

A Russian scientist wanted to prove, back in the 1980s, that the evolution from wolf to dog was genetic and caused by selective breeding by man. To prove this, he bred foxes for decades, selecting for only one trait: friendliness towards humans (or at least lack of fear of humans).

Foxes that were fearful of humans or unfriendly towards them were not permitted to breed. (To be honest, given that this was done by Russians and scientists, neither group having excess empathy for lab animals, I assume "not permitted to breed" really means "not permitted to live.")

But the foxes that seemed warmer towards humans were allowed to breed. And over decades and many generations, they slowly produced more dog-like foxes.

The video below shows a San Diego couple who pay up to $9000 for the domesticated foxes and the import fees for exotic animals, and have about eight of them. They say the foxes are not housebroken at all, and not nearly as sweet-natured as dogs; but the video points out, too, that these were lab animals, bred and tested and then allowed to breed if they were sufficiently friendly, but not cared for as a master would care for his dog.

So, genetically they might be friendly foxes, but they haven't been socialized to be as friendly as dogs. Most of their early lives were spent in kennels and cages.

Who knows, maybe the next generation of these San Diego foxes, properly brought up by humans from puppyhood, might be more like dogs.

It's kind of interesting.

The TL;DR version is: No, domesticated foxes are no threat whatsoever to become Man's New Best Friend. While they're tame and unafraid of people, they're also pretty aloof. And who knows, maybe they're not housebreakable.

Still, they're kinda cute.

Video below, print article here.

If you want to dive right into the Road Test -- wild foxes vs. domesticated foxes as far as friendliness towards humans -- skip to 4:54 and watch for about 30 seconds.


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posted by Ace of Spades at 06:13 PM

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